Wednesday, February 29, 2012

still working on pandas

I have been working hard but slowly on my paper pieced panda,
I am adding a lot of hand embroidery details
and I am hand quilting it,
so yes it is taking a long time!

this is the big panda
and here is the little panda,

yep I made 2 different sizes
the big is 8 X 8, and the little one 4 X 4.

I hope to be done with this project soon,
it is going to be good,
think wearable art!

Happy sewing!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Friday, February 24, 2012

paper piecing technique

While I was working on the valentine mug rug
I realized I have a "special" way to do paper piecing.
I am not sure where/when I learned that technique,
but I have been quite successful with it,
so I thought I would share.
I used it a lot when I made this Noah's ark quilt,
pattern from Margaret Rolfe.

I really enjoy making the animals, all of them are paper pieced, then I embroidered their faces
and added braided tails where necessary (you can actually play with the giraffe and zebra's tails!)

Living in the DC area, we have the chance to see Pandas at the zoo,
so I thought it would be fitting to make a paper pieced panda,
surrounded by bamboo of course.

(he still needs some embroidery work)

I used Margaret Rolfe's CD-ROM to print my block,
very convenient, no need to recopy it from the book.

Once my pattern (made 2 copies: one for reference, the other for sewing) was printed I colored the background in green to make it easier to choose color.
I cut out the 5 sections that made the block (notice the lack of seam allowance)
I started with the face.

I used a folded piece of tape to hold my first fabric in place on number 1.
The wrong side of the fabric is placed over the tape.
I very roughly and generously cut around the shape (there are no seam allowances on the paper)

On the right side, I place a piece of black (right side together) making sure it will be big enough when the piece is flipped. The black piece is overlapping a little the area where it is going to be but not covering it.
On the paper side I stitched on the first line (between 1 and 2), starting and finishing at least 1/4 inch on either side of the line. Because we are stitching on paper that we will remove later,
it is best to use a real short stitch length, like 1.5.
I flipped over the black fabric and ironed it, then trimmed the excess fabric.
I also cut out the excess fabric on the edges but still making sure I have 1/4 inch seam allowance!

I repeat the same process on the other side (the panda's face is symmetrical).
Finally I stitched the 4th piece on the bottom.
There is the rough shape of the face.
I finally cut all around the face with a 1/4 inch (using ruler and roller cuter)

I repeated the same thing for the other 4 sections.
For me the trickiest part is putting all the sections together, especially the ones where
 accuracy really maters, like the panda's hands in this one.
I put a pin exactly where the 2 sections met. I made sure that I looked on the right side to confirm proper placement. Then I stitched just a 1 inch before and after that point with a 2.0 stitch length (no paper) and checked if everything is perfect. In case it is not, there are less unstitching to be done!
When it looked good, I stitched the entire length, and pressed the seam opened.

The other sections did not have any tricky parts, i.e., no need for perfect accuracy!
 All the sections were stitched together and ironed.
And voila a perfect panda.
The paper and tape can be removed at that stage or after the addition of border.
I am always careful while remove the paper so I do not disturb/stress the seams.
It is one of the time where poor quality paper is a plus, easier to tear apart.
It is also possible to use water soluble paper to skip this step, but I have never tried it.

Now I need to put some expression, eyes, mouth on my panda....

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

little needle book

A couple of weeks ago,
I showed you some work in progress,
well it is now finished

and received: it was a present for Maman for her birthday.
(She just got internet so I am going to have to be more careful!)

I really like how it turned out.
The pattern for the needle book is from Nana Company

I used 12 different Liberty of London fabrics, and
some linen for the embroidery, I used some stabilizer with the linen. 

 The embroidery design is from Wild Olive,
it is embroidered with stem stitch, and there are little seed beads
on the frosting.

I have been trying hand quilting, and I must admit, it is fun!
(no way I am going to hand quilt a full quilt! just little projects.)

I have become a huge fan of linen and Liberty mixed together,
I know it is not new and I am not the only one,
but I enjoy sewing this mix as you have seen through
a lunch box, a fabric basket,  and I am sure more to come.

I kept the inside very simple.
It is just some ivory felt, and of course more Liberty!

Bon anniversaire Maman!

Happy sewing.

sew many ways

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

gold fish bag

Almost everyday, my kids get a zipblog bag for a little snack 
with their sandwich, drink and fruit.
So when I saw this idea from Sew Tara
I thought it would be perfect for the kids to take to school.

Doesn't it look just great with Miss C.'s lunch box?
The snack pouch was very fast to make, and the embroidery very easy,
I even did it in back stitch (I always use stem stitch, but this was so much faster!)

Miss C. is very happy about her little bag,
and Brick Master found it cool enough
that he would like me to make him one too!
May  be a little less girly!

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

macarons for valentine

For Valentine's day, Mon Cheri got me a special treat:
a cooking class at Sur La table to make macarons.
Some might think it is more for him than for me,
i.e. he would get to eat my hard labor...
well it is truly a present for me as I am the only one
that can eat nuts in the family!

Aren't they beautiful?
and delicious, a lot of eating and testing in the class!

The recipe we followed is very similar to this one from Epicurious.
They are a couple tricks to know, but it is over all pretty simple,
I guess I will have to try at home, to make sure I can duplicate my own work!

A few things that I thought were keys:
room temperature egg white
degreased glassware with vinegar
folding the almond flour/sugar mixture carefully 
stop mixing when the batter has reached the proper consistency:
firm but drip slowly from the spatula!
use paper with circles (1 1/4 inch) under the parchment so all the macarons are the same size
use pastry bag with 1/2 inch plain round tip

make sure the macarons are dried before baking them, at least 15 min (almost hard to the pouch)
remove the circle paper before baking
use 2 baking sheets (one underneath the other)
bake 350 for 7 min then 275-300 for 10 min
high temperature at the beginning to ensure that we get a "foot"
but then cooler so the top does not burn

they get a lot paler during baking!

the macarons can be made with almonds, hazelnuts and pistachio,
color is added even to the pistachio one, which seems to be very temperamental,
probably best to stick to almond or hazelnut (not as white)

For the inside we made 2 different chocolate filling:
white chocolate ganache with rose water
and espresso-chocolate ganache.
Both were quite good, but I think I prefer the jam/fruit filled ones,
I guess I can always put some preserve in between 2 macarons!

It seems to be best to make them at least a day if not 2 days in advance
before serving/eating them, as they are rather dry
but get moister with the filling over time!

 I wish I had taken pictures at the end of the class
but we all got sticky fingers and full mouths...
so much for waiting a day or 2!

Happy day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

valentine mug rug

On Wednesday, I saw this cool paper pieced tutorial
and I had to make it right away.

Here it is:

I had not done any paper piecing since the green dragon and "blason",
so I forgot that mine always end up backwards!
I work differently from the tutorial so it is slightly different,
but I like it just the same.
I did not add a table under my cup, so it is a floating tea cup.
I think it is going to be a great mug rug!

Happy sewing!

sew many ways

Fresh Poppy Design

Saturday, February 4, 2012

little Valentine bedding

As a birthday present, I received some beautiful voile
and a very cute valentine's day print.
And I knew exactly what I was going to make:
Valentine's day bedding for Miss C.'s doll.

She has been using her bed (from Ana's tutorial) a lot,
and so have her dolls!

Here is a picture of the print:

I used the panel of the left, with the big heart.
I used some batting and quilted it to get some puffiness.

It started to get a trapunto effect,
like a super puffy comforter!

I stitched some ruffles on both long sides
and  I sewed  the back, with right side together,
leaving a small opening to turn it right side out.
I then top stitched all around.

Of course, the old pillow cases were totally wrong for the new color scheme!
So I made some new ones with hot pink (same as the comforter lining)
and green polka dot.
I based my pillow cases on this tutorial by From An Igloo.

No bed would be complete without throw pillow!
I made a quick one using felt and cutting out a few different heart.

And last but not least: Breakfast in bed!
Life as a doll has some cool perks!

Actually sharing it with your girlfriends is even better!

Happy sewing!

sew many ways

Sew Chatty

A Crafty Soiree

Thursday, February 2, 2012

favorite rye bread and 2nd anniversary

Today is this little blog second anniversary,
I did not forget it, unlike last year!
Which also means that we moved a year ago,
 man, times fly when you are having fun!

So today I should be making crepes (it is that time of the year),
but instead I made bread....
alright I might make crepes later!

I have been enjoying my new oven,
and making bread, lots of bread, to everyone great pleasure.
My favorite one is rye bread.
The recipe is from my old and retired bread machine,
but it is perfect and delicious!

Here is you need:

2 oz of warm water
2 tsp of yeast
1 Tbsp of oil
2 Tbsp of molasse
8 oz of buttermilk
1 egg
1 1/2 cup of rye flour
2 cup of bread flour
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of baking soda.

After dissolving the yeast in the water,
everything else is added and stirred for 7-10 minutes.

 The dough rests in a greased, covered bowl for a few hours until it doubles,
it takes a lot longer than with just white flour!

Then it  is punched down and shaped, it needs to rise again
 on a floured surface, under a towel.

Finally the bread can be transferred to the oven at 375
and baked.
I like to use my pizza stone to bake bread,
and I use corn meal on the stone.
It is also the perfect time to slash the top of the bread.

It takes about 45 min for the bread to cook.
I like to check the temperature of the bread to figure out
if it is ready, usually 160 seems about right.

Isn't it a beauty?
It tastes delicious and keep for a few days,
it is also perfect toasted!

Well I am off eating some lunch,
nothing happy anniversary like bread, cheese and fruit!

Happy day!

Coffee, bunny and Easter eggs

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